PwC’s Berera 1st woman COO at Big 4 in India

Joined Industry 35 Years Ago When Clients Had Doubts About Women Handling Projects

Every sector has a forerunner in a woman who shatters the glass ceiling to reach the top levels of leadership. Satyavati Berera of PwC India has joined the league of such achievers. She is the first woman to become the COO of a Big Four accounting firm in India, a sector known to be largely male-dominated at the top rungs.

Berera, currently the regional managing partner for north at PwC India, will take charge as COO on January 1, 2016, becoming second only to chairman Deepak Kapoor in hierarchy . Berera will replace Neil Wilson, who is moving to London as global operations partner with PwC.

While several women have become partners at accounting firms, with some even leading important portfolios such as consulting, taxation, audit, HR, legal and marketing, Berera is the first to reach the level of a COO. Representation of women in the sector at the entry level is almost equal to that of men, but the numbers dwindle with rising levels of hierarchy . Overall statistics on gender diversity may just start changing now.

Berera, in an emailed response to TOI, said, “When I joined the profession in the ’80s, there were a few women at the entry level but rarely any woman at the managerial level. I can even recall that there were clients who insisted their projects should not be assigned to women, probably because they felt it (the job) was not conducive for women. I am happy to see we have come a long way from there.“

Working at firms like PwC EY, Deloitte and KPMG -the Big Four -can be challenging for women as it entails long hours and extensive travel ling, at times even to remote areas. “Most of our work schedules are governed by the demands of clients and that can at times be a challenge, especially for women. My family initially used to be concerned about my working late hours But soon they grew out of that PwC provided a robust support system. This, coupled with support on my home front, enabled me to overcome the challenges,“ said Berera who has been a partner with the firm since 1995.

At PwC India, the gender diversity in leadership levels is around 30%. At the partner level, it’s 11% (global average for PwC is 18%). While Berera believes there is a need to educate male employees and look at ways to break unconscious stereotypes, she feels persona attributes play a pivotal role in shaping one’s career. “I seldom said `no’ to any opportunity coming my way . It is important to be open to change and, when needed, push the envelope,“ she said.

Berera now stands alongs de high-profile women achievers from other sectors, including Chanda Kochhar, MD & CEO, ICICI Bank; Arundhati Bhattacharya, the first woman to head the State Bank of ndia; Aruna Jayanthi, CEO, Capgemini India; Sangeeta Pendurkar, MD, Kellogg India; Shikha Sharma, MD & CEO, Axis Bank; Kirthiga Reddy , MD, Facebook India; and Nee am Dhawan, MD, HewlettPackard India.

Berera, who has done extensive work across diversified sectors in areas of governance, risk and compliance services, believes women should not be apologetic about wanting to be successful or ambitious. “One of the biggest mistakes women commit s that they give up too soon and too easily. Having the zeal o succeed and reach top is extremely important,“ she said.

Source: Economic Times

Date: 28-12-2015

Maharashtra, TN lead general insurance premium collection

Karnataka pips Gujarat to 3rd place in premium collection, penetration in fiscal 2014-15


Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have retained their top two positions in terms of general insurance premium collection and penetration, while Karnataka has replaced Gujarat at the third place in fiscal 2014-15.

According to the data from General Insurance Council, Maharashtra was at the top with total premium collection of ₹19,336 crore and insurance penetration of 1.15 per cent. Tamil Nadu was second with premium collection of ₹8,238 crore while insurance penetration was at 0.84 per cent.

Karnataka toppled Gujarat in 2014-15 in terms of general insurance penetration. Karnataka registered 0.98 per cent against Gujarat’s 0.71 per cent.

Gujarat, with a premium collection of ₹6,306 crore, lostto Karnataka (₹6,847 crore). This is also against the fact that the Karnataka economy at ₹7,02,131 crore in 2014-15 was smaller than of Gujarat’s which stood at ₹8,85,000 crore.

“Gujarat is an industrialised State. Still, it is due to the relative positioning dependant on the various aspects of product sales,” ICICI Lombard General Insurance chief for underwriting and claims Sanjay Datta said.

Industrial activities

Predominant industrial and commercial activities have reflected in the respective States’ premium collection in 2014-15, the data showed.

“In Karnataka, motor and health have shown better growth on the premium collection than Gujarat during FY15 and hence, its improved positioning in the ranking,” General Insurance Council secretary general R Chandrasekaran told PTI.

Delhi was at the fifth place with premium collection of ₹5,797 crore but the insurance penetration was the highest at 1.28 per cent.

UP improves show

Uttar Pradesh improved its tally to sixth from seventh in terms of mobilising total insurance premium. The State with GSDP of ₹9,76,297 crore has generated a total premium of ₹4,859 crore up by around 10 per cent, taking its insurance penetration to 0.50 per cent.

Rajasthan is the only State which improved position by two notches from ninth to seventh in 2014-15. With GSDP of ₹5,74,549 crore, Rajasthan produced ₹3,605 crore of total general insurance premium, up 8 per cent.

The State had an insurance penetration of 0.63 per cent and density of ₹525 in 2014-15

Source: Business Line

Date: 27-12-2015

Business Acumen: Building a Better HR

In the past year, we’ve seen articles proclaiming that it’s time to “blow up” HR in order to rebuild the field to be more focused on the bottom line. HR is in part unpopular because it makes people behave and enforces policies about how every employee, including executives, must interact with others.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to deny that HR is often perceived by corporate leaders as being out of step with the rest of the business. Indeed, according to an article in the Fall 2015 issue of People + Strategy, business leaders both inside and outside the field consistently rate HR as moderately satisfactory at best in terms of skills and effectiveness.

The most frequent and persistent criticism is that HR can’t connect to the language of finance, which defines how business operates. Every HR professional can ensure that this doesn’t hold true for himself or herself by developing business acumen. What’s the best way to do that?

Here are three tips for sharpening your strategic skills in 2016:

Recognize that good HR is about making choices. There is no single best-practice model. Rather, your policies should be predicated on what works well for your particular business. It makes sense for some companies to outsource their hiring, for others to avoid the use of incentive pay and for still others to refrain from using employees at all for certain tasks. Knowing what to do when is the key—and that requires understanding business strategy. This is the first step to figuring out the different ways companies can compete and succeed.

Learn enough finance to understand the factors that drive shareholder value. It isn’t enough to understand how to calculate a rate of return on investment. You must be able to articulate arguments in terms of return on investment. Learn enough cost accounting to grasp how the metrics you collect—about engagement, retention, benefits, etc.—lead to improved organizational performance and a stronger bottom line. Become fluent in the language of numbers and balance sheets.

Choose your continuing education options wisely. Many courses in HR don’t reflect the issues of today. Some classes are based on 30-year-old texts. While books and curricula have all been updated, the old corporate model, in which employees were hired for life, remains at their core. Many are disproportionately focused on compliance, job analysis and training programs. While those topics still have a place in HR, today’s professionals must also learn how to partner effectively with vendors, manage organizational change, shape corporate culture and navigate the conflicting demands around executive compensation.

So instead of detonating HR, let’s embrace the evolution of its mandate. It’s growing just like all the other functions of business in our rapidly changing world. And that can’t happen without a little pain along the way. But the investment of time and effort will be well worth it in the long run.


News – SHRMNews

Date : 18th Dec 2015

‘’Ergo hikes HDFC JV stake to 48.7% for Rs 1,122cr’’

German insurer Ergo has agreed to pay HDFC, the majority partner in their non-life joint venture, Rs 1,122 crore for hiking its stake from 25.84% to 48.72%. The proposed deal values HDFC Ergo General Insurance at Rs 4,900 crore.

A statement issued by the two companies said under the agreement signed between them, Ergo will buy 12.33 crore shares of HDFC Ergo at Rs 90.97 apiece. This will result in HDFC’s stake coming down from 73.63% to 50.73%. HDFC Ergo will continue to be a subsidiary of HDFC.

“The transaction is subject to receipt of all necessary approvals, including but not limited to approvals from the Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority of India, the Competition Commission of India and the Foreign Investment Promotion Board,“ the statement said. This is the second round of value unlocking by HDFC in the insurance sector. Earlier, the company had entered into two deals to sell stake in the life insurance joint venture -HDFC Standard Life -to partner Standard Life and to the Azim Premji Trust. The last deal valued the company at Rs 19,000 crore.

HDFC Ergo is the fourth largest private non-life insurance company in India. For 2014-15, the company recorded premium income of Rs 3,257 crore and a net profit of Rs 104 crore. The joint venture has grown 12-fold from the time Ergo stepped in to replace US insurer Chubb as the joint venture partner with HDFC in 2008.


Source :-   The Times of India (Mumbai)

Date    :-   18th  December, 2015





‘’IT, telecom top November job market with 17% rise:’’

Information technology and telecom continued to rule the job market in November with an increase of 17 per cent in hiring from a year ago. Between January and November, IT and telecom registered an expansion in demand for talent, according to a release.

“ RecruiteX for the IT and telecom sectors has been rising steadily for the past six months. With digitization, IoT (internet of things) and more policy reforms on the cards, this growth trend is expected to continue into next year,” said Vivek Madhukar, COO, “However, the sector is expected to be cautious of mass hiring in fiscal 2016, and would be largely taking stock and focusing hiring needs on niche roles.”

Given the government’s Digital India and Smart City initiatives, the demand for skilled professionals in the banking, financial services, insurance (BFSI) and IT and telecom sectors has risen consistently even as the overall RecruiteX demand index dropped by 8 per cent over the year earlier.
The BFSI sector registered a 9 per cent growth in hiring in November from the year earlier. Demand for IT and telecom professionals grew 15 per cent during the month. Business management consultants and freelancers witnessed a 14 per cent rise in demand.

“With both big companies and startups in expansion mode and some venturing into new business avenues, demand for experienced professionals, especially at the middle level, will rise to sustain credible growth rates,” Madhukar said.

Bengaluru topped the charts again with a rise in talent demand of more than 30 per cent in November from the year earlier. Among non-metros, Ahmedabad also saw a rise of more than 30 per cent in talent demand, according to RecruiteX.


Source :-   The Economic Times (Mumbai)

Date    :-   15th  December, 2015



‘’HR challenges include succession, retention’’

Today’s most critical human capital challenges are employee engagement, developing the next generation of leaders and compensation that improves retention, according to HR professionals responding to a new survey by the Society for Human ResourceManagement (SHRM).

C-Suite executives taking part in a parallel survey echoed HR’s view. They said retaining high performers and maintaining competitive compensation were their greatest challenges.

Among the surveys’ findings:

  • Thirty-eight percent of HR respondents said the top current challenge is “maintaining high levels of employee engagement.” It was followed by “developing the next generation of organizational leaders” (31%), “maintaining competitive compensation offerings” (29%) and “retaining our highest performing employees” (26%).
  • Looking 10 years out, results reflected the impact of an aging workforce. The top response by HR professionals was “developing the next generation of organizational leaders” (39%), followed closely by “managing the loss of key workers and their skill sets due to retirement” (35%).

“At most organizations, both HR and non-HR C-Suite executives view HR as having a strategic role and are currently planning to make changes to their HR function to make it even more strategic and measurement-driven in the years to come,” said Jen Schramm, SHRM’s manager of workforce trends.

The Great Recession may have galvanized common cause between HR and seniorleadership, the report states: “Many business leaders both inside and outside of the HR profession understand the pressure HR has faced to do more with less in the aftermath of the recession, but they do not see this as a permanent problem.”


Source :-   Business Management Daily (Mumbai)

Date    :-   16th  December, 2015




`People aren’t always allowed to be creative’

Disrespect, question, playfulness, failure, mistakes“ aren’t the kind of stuff your folks at home, school or office will teach you but these forbidden acts can be key to unleashing the creativity inherent in everybody , expressed Tobias Degsell, curator at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm on his visit to Mumbai on Tuesday .

Those are also the first words that stare back at you from the floor as you set foot in the “little known“ museum dedicated to Alfred Nobel and the eponymous prize.“We believe that creativity is for everyone. The problem is people aren’t always allowed to choose to be creative. To break patterns, it’s necessary to push the boundaries. It’s not about disrespecting people but about questioning ideas, learning from mistakes and failing in order to succeed,“ says Tobias which isn’t just pep talk but based on years of research on 900 laureates till date.

Shattering the myth that creativity and innovation is a privilege of geniuses, labs and researchers, it can be cultivated in anyone, he adds.Just like Alfred Nobel who had never been to school, let alone university .

While there can be no definitive measures to being creative Degsell states that an attitude of courage, perseverance, vision and curiosity is crucial. “You need an enabling environment that enhances creativity and innovative human beings, that’s why we’ve brought Tobias here. Because it seems innovation and creativity is being discussed more and more in India,“ explained Fredrika Ornbrant, Consul General of Sweden. “To sit in Sweden and not share is the recipe of failure and against the spirit of the Nobel prize.We are all equal, need to work together and solve problems,“ added Degsell who on his visit to India this time helmed workshops at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad and the Welingkar Institute of Management in Mumbai on what makes a creative and innovative mind.

While cradling innovation is a universal problem “because it is disruptive and goes against an existing system“, Sweden’s rank as a frontrunner in thinking outof-the-box Degsell believes owes itself to the early 19th century when people were starving in the country .“Sweden has always been a small country and we learnt the importance of using eve ryone. That’s why you won’t find hierarchies. When you depend on higher authorities and politicians to tell you what to do, it doesn’t work.“

One may wonder how a country like India with its diverse communities and hierarchies can allow for creativity to thrive, “Diversity is good,“ insists Degsell. “To promote creativity , it’s important to start really early .And it’s not about finding right answers all the time but about finding different kinds of answers and working together to solve problems.What we need in the future is teams who solve problems.“

The Nobel Museum in an old part of town is Sweden’s best kept secret that startles even the Nobel laureates when they come visiting. What started in 2001 as a travelling exhibition to mark the centenary year of the Nobel Prize moved into a brick and mortar space of 1000-sq mt that is almost a lens through which one must look at the Nobel with creativity as common ground. If the hallway manages to fit in 900 laureates, their pictures going around on a conveyor belt “like at the drycleaners“ laughs Degsell, the chairs at the museum café serve as a guestbook of sorts cataloguing signatures of all the Nobel laureates who visit.

Among the heap of memorabilia that the Nobel Museum houses Degsell’s favourite pick is a bicycle mounted on its wall that belongs to Amartya Sen. Not a common tool in economic science, but Sen’s cycle had played a major role in his research when he cycled through Bengal’s countryside, weighing children himself, when villagers refused to.


Source: The Times of India (Mumbai)

Date: 16th December, 2015.